- Night. Street. Lamp. Drugstore.
- Dull and sleazy light.
- Live twenty-five years more —
- It will be as now. No way out.
- You die — and again you begin.
- All is repeated as before:
- Night. The canal’s icy ripples.
- Drugstore. Lamp. Street.
Translated by Ilya Kaminsky
Alexander Blok (1880–1921) was a major Russian poet, possibly the most important Russian poet of his generation. Born into an intellectual and somewhat aristocratic family, he was a poet with great empathy for the poor and downtrodden. At first an enthusiastic supporter of the 1917 Communist Revolution, within a few years he became disillusioned with it and, perhaps, to some extent, with humanity as well. When he became ill, his friend Maxim Gorky pleaded with the Soviet government to permit Blok to leave the country for medical treatment, but the government refused to grant him permission and relented only when it was too late to save Blok’s life. This translation by the Russian-American poet Ilya Kaminsky is taken from The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry, a brilliant anthology of world poetry published by Ecco Books in 2010 and edited by Kaminsky and Susan Harris.